I still don’t know how or why did I decide to watch a movie about martial arts. However, once you start with these movies, it turns into a phase (at least with me). I heard Yip Man is one of the best martial arts movies in years and decided to go with it. Upon watching, all I can do is to recommend it to anyone who likes this genre. But also to anyone interested in expending their movie horizons because it’s much more than a beat ’em fists-flying fest. Choosing Donnie Yen, one of the biggest names in Asia, for the title role was the right choice. His performance here pushed him to stardom and he soon found himself in several Hollywood movies.
Phenomenal scenography depicting China in a state of turmoil and through the WWII is just one of the elements that it has to offer. Loosely based on the life of Yip Man, who was a Chinese martial artist and Bruce Lee’s teacher, this masterpiece is something that you can recommend even to people who usually don’t watch these movies. The reason for that is the character development and the story. Yes, you read it right, this movie has a complex story that shows us what happens when the fight is over.
China, 1930, in the city of Foshan that’s known for its great schools for martial arts lives the greatest of them all, Yip Man. As a wealthy man, he has no need to take students or work, so he focuses on his exercises. Only occasionally allowing other masters to compete with him behind closed doors. His wife doesn’t approve of his behavior as she thinks he’s neglecting his family duties. Then the war came and along with it great poverty that afflicted even the great Ip Man, who humble as he is, starts working regular jobs…
Ip Man provides an opportunity to see a movie that doesn’t care about polls and statistics, there are no hot young people, no nudity or curse words, just life and kung fu (in the spirit of Yip Man, they are the same thing :), truly an encompassing movie. The skill of the fighters is amazing, and although this is not a Jackie Chan furniture fight with outrageous stunts, it will still blow your mind. And just try resisting the urge to mimic the movements and strikes in the comfort of your own home.
Basically you’re just waiting for someone to piss off Ip Man so he can kick his ass, righteously. If you are wondering if this is another flying monstrosity in which realism went out of the window in the first scene, it’s not. There are no flying kicks or flying, just good old fashioned fighting. There are two sequels with declining quality, Yip Man 2 was watchable but Yip Man 3: Final Fight was horrendous.
Director: Wilson Yip
Writer: Edmond Wong, Chan Tai-Li
Cast: Donnie Yen, Simon Yam, Ka Tung Lam, Siu-Wong Fan, Lynn Hung, Hiroyuki Ikeuchi, Yu Xing
Fun Facts: Although it’s the first film centering around Yip Man, the idea was there for almost 30 years. Donnie Yen was actually slated to play Yip Man in the supposed first biopic back in 1997. The film would’ve also featured Stephen Chow playing an adult Bruce Lee. However, only one day of shooting took place before the project was canceled.